Kandrik M, Jones BC, Fincher CL & DeBruine LM (2013). Menís, but not womenís, sociosexual orientation predicts couplesí sensitivity to sexually dimorphic cues in own-sex faces. European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association in Amsterdam, Netherlands. March 2013.


Previous research suggests that peoplesí perceptions of own-sex individuals can change according to within-subject changes in their romantic partnersí sexual strategies. However, few studies have examined whether between-subjects differences in romantic partnersí sexual strategies also predict perceptions of own-sex individuals in this way. The revised Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI-R) assesses individualsí openness to uncommitted sexual relationships and shows high test-retest reliability, even over long periods of time. Consequently, we tested whether men and women in heterosexual romantic couplesí scores on the SOI-R predicted the extent to which those couples ascribed high dominance and attractiveness to own-sex faces displaying exaggerated sex-typical facial cues.


Fifty-seven heterosexual couples completed both the SOI-R and standard tests for assessing the extent to which high dominance and attractiveness are ascribed to opposite-sex and own-sex faces manipulated in sex-typicality. The members of these couples were each tested individually.


The extent to which both men and women ascribed high dominance and attractiveness to own-sex faces displaying exaggerated sex-typical shapes was positively correlated with menís, but not womenís, SOI-R. In other words, individuals in couples where the man reported being more open to short-term sexual relationships were more likely to ascribe dominance and attractiveness to own-sex individuals displaying a putative cue of phenotypic condition. Consistent with other recent work suggesting that SOI-R does not predict partnered individualsí attractiveness judgments of potential mates, neither menís nor womenís SOI-R predicted perceptions of opposite-sex faces.


Our findings suggest that both menís and womenís perceptions of potential competitors for mates may be sensitive to the male partnerís sexual strategy. Such individual differences in perceptions may benefit menís ability to compete for extra-pair and/or replacement mates and womenís mate retention behaviours.

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